Valery Khamenia’s three-point attempt to take the victory with four seconds left hit the back rim and bounced out, giving Xavier a 76-74 win over GW – the team’s first Smith Center victory in four seasons. After the 22-foot jumper went long, both teams battled for control of the ball as time expired.
“(Khamenia) was more designed to be a decoy, to spread their defense,” GW coach Tom Penders said. “I didn’t want him to get the ball in that situation.”
With GW’s best driving guard SirValiant Brown on the bench after fouling out, Penders said he would have preferred at least a Bernard Barrow (five points) or Chris Monroe (15 points) drive into the lane with the clock winding down.
“(The final shot) I would have to question,” Penders said. “But if it goes in then he looks like a hero and the guy who passed it to him looks like a hero.”
The Colonials (7-10, 1-3 Atlantic 10), who have dropped three of their first four A-10 games, have the difficult task of playing five of their next six conference matches on the road.
For the second straight game, Brown came off the bench for GW. Brown’s hustle was evident as the sophomore dove for loose balls and scored a team-high 22 points (10-for-19) in 26 minutes.
“(Brown) plays his heart out,” Penders said. “I hope our fans stay behind him and support him because nobody tries harder than that kid.”
A-10 Player of the Week David West was the star of contest as he pounded the Colonials for 26 points (8-for-14) and 10 rebounds. Xavier’s constant effort to attack the heart of the GW defense proved effective as the Musketeers went to the foul line 50 times (31-for-50).
“I’m sure (coach) Tommy (Penders) noticed it as well. It was pretty disproportionate,” Xavier coach Skip Prosser said about GW’s foul trouble. “They fouled us a lot at the end of the game and we responded by making one out of two a hundred times.”
GW went just 7-for-8 from the line.
“When you’re in your own building and you go to the foul line eight times and the other team goes 50, it’s hard to swallow,” Penders said.
While Penders said his team’s loss was not because of officiating, the GW coach did question some calls made by referee Reggie Greenwood, including a no-call that favored Xavier (13-3, 4-1 A-10) up 71-69 with less than a minute to play.
As Xavier in-bounded the ball from underneath its own basket, “the official was standing out of bounds and a Xavier player (Maurice McAfee) dribbled into him, which is out of bounds,” Penders said. “And he didn’t blow the whistle. And I couldn’t understand it.”
Penders, who received a technical foul from Greenwood early in the game, got into a shouting match outside the locker room 15 minutes after the game. During the incident, Penders accusing Greenwood of “cheating kids.”
The Colonials trailed the entire second half, falling down by as many as 10 points with about 10 minutes left. Behind nine straight Brown points and a pair of jump shots from freshman Marquin Chandler (10 points), the Colonials mounted a comeback. A Barrow three-pointer put GW behind 75-74 with 12.5 seconds left. After Xavier’s Lloyd Price (10 points) made one of two free throws, Barrow dribbled the ball down and dished it to Khamenia for the final shot.
Xavier used a 13-2 run in the final three minutes of the first half to take a 37-35 lead.
“With a bounce here, a call here at the end of the ball game, we might have been able to pull it out,” Penders said. “But we didn’t.”